The entrance to the 2nd floor Fun House was on the ground floor of the old Crescent Cinema part of the building, between the sweet shop and the indoor fair and it always smelt of sweets, candy floss and popcorn and had loud music playing as well as the other typical fairground noises.
Once you paid the entrance fee at the little pay booth (50p I recall for the Fun House), you proceeded straight up the once grand cinema red carpeted stairwell, which opened up onto the first landing that originally contained Fliks, the under 18s disco, that later became the Wind in the Willows exhibition.
Following another flight of grand stairs, I recall the entrances to the Fun House being on the right and the Wax Works on the left.
In the early days the entrance Fun House was through a further door on the right where there were a few seats and a drinks vending machine (a novelty in those days). This entrance later became the exit as a different entrance was added where you had to go in through a dark/haunted corridor ‘glow bright in the dark passage’, which had a light that made white clothes fluorescent. There was also a ‘trap door’ in the floor that moved as you walked over it to try and trick you (it never did). Once through this corridor, you were inside the Fun House.
Once inside, it was quite a big place with a very high ceiling. There were fairground funny mirrors on some of the walls that contorted your reflection depending on the bend to the mirror (short/fat/tall/skinny and so on).
One of the favourites was a large wooden barrel that continually turned. You could walk right through and out the other side, stand up and walk inside it or we used to also sit in it – it was like having a continuous slide. If you sat and gripped on to the wood with your hands, the roll would lift you up the side until you slipped and slid back down. Although I never witnessed it, there were many stories of people getting tumbled around because they gripped on too long! I also heard that really tall people could star fish their body to hold on and do a full turn around.
Another popular attraction was the Mushroom Spinner (I don’t think this was an official name but that’s what everyone called it.)
This was a big red and yellow spinning disk inside a large bowl. From what I remember, about 10 or so kids would climb on it when it stopped, the bigger kids often fighting for the prime spot – dead centre of the disk.
Once everyone was on the disk it would slowly start moving, spinning faster and faster and as it did it became harder and harder to hold on. Slowly but surely, one by one, the kids would start flying off spinning into the slippery outer dish or into other kids that had already been flung off. It would continue to spin for a few minutes at top speed. We soon learnt that the only way to stay on was to be sat in the dead centre of the disk. It was sometimes possible for two or more to stay on until the end If you sat dead centre and you linked arms – but this was quite tricky and didn’t always work!
A huge four or five lane Astro Slide made use of the old cinema stairs and the area where the old tiered cinema seating used to be. I think there were old cloth/carpet bag/sacks you could use to slide even faster.
Down the far end opposite the slide there was a large ball pit, which also had its own little slide built into the frame. Next to that was a massive bouncy castle – we would often play tip or hide and seek between the two.
On a platform above the same tiered area there was an air hockey table that was free to play. Above this platform and flooring above the entrance was an eerie storage area mostly used by the wax works, which was next door to the Fun House. I seem to recall that it had old wax work props, models, old dummies heads etc. along with other junk equipment stored there.
The Fun House holds many happy memories.
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